...English Essay FirstSnow 10-11-2009 FirstSnow - By Davy Rothbart, 2000 The scariest things in the world are the ones we do not understand. Our imagination holds immense power over us, which can turn a serene and peaceful milieu into a frightening and terrifying situation. This is the reason why I, and many other children, was afraid of darkness during childhood. Not being able to see in the dark, allows the mind to wander, and suddenly all the ghost stories or horror movies, that seemed so vague and inconsequential in the bright daylight, becomes appetizers for your mind, to create horrendous and unspeakable images. However, vision is not the only requirement for understanding. Outcasts come in all shapes and sizes, and some are clearly visible. As a matter of fact, they will often stand out, because of their unique characteristics, yet they are still often met with hostility, resentment and distrust. The environment in FirstSnow is small, monotonous and not suited for growth. This means that does that do not fit in with the surroundings, will naturally become outcasts. Maurice is a character with many features that spawns distinction and diversity. His physical attributes include a different skin color, a feeble and frail conformation and finally he wear glasses. His mental traits includes a low self esteem, “none of y’all prob’ly give a shit about me,...
My First Experience With Snow
… And a few surprising lessons along the way
This happened in the second half of 1997.
We had just relocated to the Bay area (California) from Singapore. One of my first projects as a project manager for Vantive (now part of Oracle Corporation) was to implement a new support application for the Lincoln Telephone company (at that time)
That was my first trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. I was excited about going to Lincoln for many reasons. The main one being that I had never seen snow until that time in my life and I had heard from my friends that I could see a LOT of snow at Lincoln. Until then, my knowledge about “what snow would like like” was mainly from Bollywood song scenes. Little did I know that I would learn a few life lessons on this journey.
I took a flight to Omaha, Nebraska and the plan was to drive from Omaha to Lincoln. Lincoln is about 80 miles from Omaha.
When I opened the door of my rented car, I saw that there was a comb-sized plastic stick on my car seat. I couldn’t make out what it was. My first thought that the rental car folks have not cleaned the car properly. I promptly deposited that stick in the trash bin and drove to Lincoln. It was around a 90 minute-drive.
I was delighted to see remnants of snow on the sides of the road. It was everywhere. There was no snow fall, though.
I reached the Residence Inn Hotel where I would be staying for the next 8 weeks or so. The day went by quickly as I had to do some shopping and stuff. I had an early morning meeting at work the next day so I went to bed early.
Next day morning, I got ready quickly and rushed to the parking lot. When I came down, there was a surprise waiting for me. The whole night it had snowed like crazy. It was fun to watch almost EVERYTHING covered with snow.
However, there was a big problem!
All the cars in the parking lot were covered completely with snow. While I remembered the general area where I parked, I had no clue where EXACTLY I had parked my car. That, by the way, made my first experience with snow a very interesting one.
I thought for a while.
Time was ticking away and I didn’t want to go late to my meeting on the very first day at a brand new client place. I had to do something and had to do it quickly. I walked up and down trying to open the car doors with my car remote but that didn’t seem to work for whatever reason.
The only other information I had was the car’s registration number. It was something to start with.
I had gloves and I started removing snow on the number plates of cars that were parked so that I can find my car. In a few minutes I did find my car but now the whole car was covered with snow. I started to clear the snow in my own (crude) way. I must have scraped the snow from a dozen cars and there was no luck.
A gentleman who was walking by stopped and asked “Don’t you have a snow scraper?” and I asked back “What is that?” He smiled and said “Wait, let me get you one” and walked to his car. In less than a minute, he came back with a scraper and my jaw dropped.
What he gave me was exactly the same kind of “plastic stick” that I threw away in the trash can at the car rental counter.
Of course, now I know all about the snow in Nebraska AND I also know what a snow scraper is. After that, things were a bit easier and by stroke of luck, I only had to scrape away snow from seven more cars before I found my rental car.
A few life lessons
1. It’s all about awareness
Once you become aware of something, you can’t NOT be aware of them EVER again. Some of them, you can become aware of, through experience and for some of them, you need teachers and mentors that will make it easy for you.
As you saw, awareness is a funny thing. Until that incident, a snow scraper was nothing for me. After that incident, there was no question in my mind about what a snow scraper is. Before that incident, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I came to know about a snow scraper through personal experience.
However, If you have the time to learn everything from your own experience, you would be paying a very big price for that education. Teachers and mentors help a BIG way by lowering the cost of acquisition of awareness of what is relevant today. So, please go and find a mentor that will take you to the next level.
2. It’s all about assumptions:
I made a snap judgement that rental car folks had not cleaned the car. After that, it was all downhill. The assumption became truth quickly in my mind turning the snow scraper into a piece of garbage.
Dropping snap judgements and quick assumptions are hard. I am still working on getting better at this.
3. It’s all about random acts of kindness
The gentleman who helped me by offering a snow scraper from his car didn’t have to do anything just like ten others who walked past me without stopping to ask me if I needed help. But that person took the time to stop and took the time to lend a helping hand. It may not be much but it was much needed for me at that time. So much that I remember that simple act of kindness even today.
So, if you want to warm a heart, engage in a random act of kindness today.
Photo Courtesy: blmiers2 on Flickr